Friday, December 18, 2015

Update: Diversity Shouldn't Require Justification

On December 10, I wrote about Justice Antonin Scalia and his ridiculous argument that black students lack the ability to succeed at elite universities.

Also on record during those arguments before the Court were remarks by Chief Justice John Roberts who questioned the value of diversity in some instances, specifically whether black students would add anything to the classroom experience in, for example, a physics class.  These were remarks that I did not address in my blog post.


Yesterday, the New York Times published a response from Jedidah C. Isler, a National Science Foundation astronomy and astrophysics postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University.  In it, she asked two questions that, in my perfect world, would stop the conservative Justices in their tracks.  
(The underline is mine.)
Last week during oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case about the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions policies, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. posed two questions: "What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?"  Followed by: "I'm just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?"... 
...As a black woman and astrophysicist, I immediately became defensive of my own worthiness... 
...The truly damaging part of Chief Justice Roberts's question is the tacit implication that black students must justify their presence at all. 
Black students' responsibility in the classroom is not to serve as "seasoning" to the academic soup.  They do not function primarily to enrich the learning experience of white students.  Black students come to the physics classroom for the same reason white students do; they love physics and want to know more.  Do we require that white students justify their presence in the classroom?  Do we need them to bring something other than their interest?...
eye'm thynkin':  Game, set, and match to Jedidah Isler.

You can read Ms. Isler's entire Op-Ed article here

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